God is very into relationships and friends are one of his many gifts to us. We all want a real friend who gets us, will make us laugh, and stand by us. We long for someone we can count on and do life’s ups and downs with. We want a friend who won’t hesitate to speak God’s truth over our lives and love us in spite of our many flaws. Someone we can be real with.
As We Are To Our Children, God Is To Us
God wants those things for us too. God cares who you hang out with. He wants you to have good Christian friends. Just as God cautions us to stay away from certain behaviors and activities, we, in turn, did the same for our children when they were younger. We were careful who they hung out with because we knew how important of influence friends had in their life.
We tried to help and guide them so they didn’t get caught up with the “wrong” friends and be lead-off track. As adults, we tend to be friends with anyone who seems to want to be our friend. We excuse, remain silent, and overlook some things that we would have cautioned our kids to steer away from. So why do we trust God in other areas of our life but think we have to do friendships on our own terms?
Trust in the Lord will all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Trusting oneself is foolish, but those who walk in wisdom are safe. Proverbs 28:26
If we want to reap God’s blessings of good Christian friends, we need to see what God says to look for (pray for!) in a friend.
How do we find this wisdom? The Bible. Always. God has so much to say about our relationships, but for my study, I decided to challenge myself to see what one book of the Bible had to say on the subject. I chose the book of Proverbs.
A verse caught my eye right away. In it, God says to come, eat his food and drink the wine has prepared just for me. He says to leave my foolish ways behind, and begin to live and learn to be wise (Proverbs 9:5-6). He sure summed that up, don’t you think? Don’t we all want wisdom more than we want our empty, foolish ways? Getting wisdom is one of the most important things we can do according to Proverbs 4:7.
What Makes A Good Christian?
My search began with trying to discover what makes a good Christian and what a real friend is before I could start praying for a good Christian friend. In my head the two were synonymous but in reality, they aren’t. I wanted to see how much of the world’s views on friendship was influencing me and where God’s ways were different.
So what makes a good Christian? Someone who seeks God with their heart and soul and strives to please him in all they do. What is a fool? Someone who repeatedly rejects God and his ways then runs to God when they run into trouble and need to be rescued (but still won’t allow him to be Lord of their life). I knew I didn’t want to be friends with a fool. I’d had enough of that in the past (being the fool and befriending fools).
I use to think a friend was someone that I interacted with regularly and had a few things in common with. It took me a while before I realized how shallow that was. I wasn’t there for them, they weren’t there for me. We didn’t share the same values, goals, or hobbies in life. We had very little in common. As I dove into this study, I realized what I had in the past was actually acquaintances, not real friends.
Wise Not Foolish
Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20.
We all want to be wise and not foolish. We certainly don’t want to suffer harm. But are we careful who we associate with? God’s ways are not the world’s ways. Actually, his ways seem foolish to the wicked (unsaved). Who are you getting your advice from? If your confidant/friend is not saved, they will give you advice that will surely cause you to suffer harm in one form or another. Who do you choose to enjoy day-to-day activities with? If they are not saved, are you joining them in dipping your toes into things you know you should leave alone?
The godly give good advice to their friends, the wicked lead them astray. Proverbs 12:26
Should You Let Your Relationship Grow From Acquaintance To Friend?
When you first meet someone you think you would like to be friends with, take time to look at their life. You should see the fruits of the Spirit freely flowing. Everyone goes through hard seasons so don’t be too quick to judge and always pray about what you see. Ask God for discernment and guidance.
Where is their heart?
Do they have one foot in the world and one foot living for God? If you are wondering how are you suppose to know, look at their life and listen to what they say. Don’t see or hear what you want to see and hear but listen objectively. You need God’s discernment. There aren’t any shortcuts. Look closely at the following four areas:
1. Are they speaking one thing and doing another?
We can all talk the talk and sound very godly. But our actions (and eventually our words) will give us away every time. There is a perfect verse about this very thing in Matthew but since I am sticking with Proverbs, these verses might help:
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Proverbs 10:11
The crooked heart will not prosper, the twisted tongue tumbles into trouble. Proverbs 17:20
2. Where are their priorities?
They should be putting God first, their spouse next, then their kids. Those relationships were given to them by God. Your friendship with them should come after those other relationships. If they are there for their friend when their child (or husband) truly needs them, they have their priorities wrong. When God is the center of your friendship, it is possible to be friends and not spend every day (or every weekend) together and still remain close.
3. How do they treat others?
Don’t do as I once did and assume because someone is a Christian they will treat others with kindness and respect. Again, you should be able to see their fruits flowing in church and out of the church. Give yourself time to get to know each other better.
Do they treat others well or do they drip disdain because a new Christian doesn’t understand a Biblical principle or a Christian sister is still struggling with certain issues after months of asking for prayer? Do they speak encouragement and love over their spouse and children or do they talk bad about them?
If you say, “Look, we did not know this” — does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it? And will he not repay all according to their deeds? Proverbs 24:12
I learned this the hard way. One day I was invited to go on a girls day with a few Christian ladies I had recently met at our new church. Although I didn’t know them well, these were ladies I looked up to and admired. They seemed to have it all together while I felt like a hot mess. While on this adventure with them, I was shocked at how they treated people outside of the church.
To make matters worse, these ladies were elders in my new church. Yet they gossiped horribly about other Christians, were demanding and disrespectful to others, and they complained endlessly that their adult children refused to have anything to do with God. I remember thinking “Because they have watched the horrible way you treat people then turn around and praise God! You’re spewing blessings and cursings with the same mouth.”
I knew if they disrespected those they considered the “little people”, they had messed up priorities, a troubled relationship with God, and were grieving the Holy Spirit. The reason they felt justified to treat other poorly didn’t matter. God never once advocated treating anyone poorly. Ever. I allowed those relationships to fade away and sought out other friends.
It is foolish to belittle a neighbor; a person with good sense remains silent. Proverbs 11:12
Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel. Proverbs 11:17
4. Are they more concerned with appearances than is healthy?
Jesus told us to wash the outside AND the inside of our cups. Sometimes, God blesses us with a friend in a way we had not anticipated. Maybe they are older, younger, richer or poorer. Keep in mind that none of those things would stop God from mending our hearts together and blessing a friendship. Isn’t he so wonderful that way?
As The Friendship Grows…
As the friendship begins to grow, you can look into other areas a bit deeper. If you are not used to using God’s Word as your measuring stick, this might seem like a lot of trouble. However, God not only tells us to seek wisdom and understanding but:
Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many counselors bring success. Proverbs 15:22
How many friendships have you had in the past that have crashed and burned because you didn’t follow God’s ways? His principles and promises will never fail. We are to get our wisdom from the Bible. In this instance, think of the “many counselors” in the verse above as the books of the Bible or even verses of the Bible. Keep in mind the first two Proverbs I gave you at the beginning of this post.
More Qualities Of A Good Christian Friend To Pray About
1. Someone with a desire to be your friend.
Have you ever met someone that you clicked with but they just didn’t seem to have time for you? They only seemed to want to be your friend when it is convenient for them. If a situation came up that you needed them, you would be out of luck because they couldn’t be bothered. Yet when they are available, they expect you to drop everything for them. Does that sound like someone who really wants to be your friend?
It’s hard to be real friends with someone who never has time to talk or get together. Everyone is busy and if your friendship is based on when that person decides to fit you in, it might not be the right time for that friendship. You need to be understanding but don’t push. Both parties have to be willing to nurture the friendship with time and attention for it to grow. If it is one-sided in any way but it’s worth fighting for, talk to your friend and share your concerns. Their response will help you decide where the friendship is (or isn’t) going.
2. Someone of a like-mind.
When you are of a like-mind, you have similar ideas, tastes, thoughts, and opinions. Just because you both call yourselves Christians doesn’t mean you have a like-mind. That was a hard concept for me. Friends need to share a common bond that the friendship can build on.
That doesn’t mean you and your friend must agree on everything. You can maturely disagree and even debate your opinion without it hurting your friendship if you put your friendship ahead of being right. Deep, thought-provoking conversations and looking at the other person’s point of view can actually strengthen your friendship and help you grow in Christ.
As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend. proverbs 27:17
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who has opposing views on everything you hold dear? I had a work friend like that. We got along great at work but outside of work we had so little in common, it was more frustrating than rewarding. The friendship died a natural death when we went to new jobs.
3. Someone who is loyal.
When someone is loyal to you, they are consistently supportive of you. You know they have your back and will get the same in return. They aren’t two-faced and won’t gossip or share your confidence with others. You can share your thoughts and feelings and expect to be accepted and loved regardless. You know that they will cry when you cry and be happy for you when blessings come your way even if their life isn’t going so great at the moment.
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Proverbs 17:17.
Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is really faithful? Proverbs 20:6
4. Someone who is trustworthy.
You can have complete confidence in your friend and trust that they will do as they say and won’t judge you for being yourself. You can be open and honest with them and trust that it will go no further. They can be counted on to give you good, godly advice even with it’s not what you want to hear.
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends. Proverbs 16:28-29.
There are friends who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs18:24
Think about that for a minute. A brother (or sister) is in your life for a very long time. They know things about you that others don’t have a clue about. They are with you through life’s ups and downs. They are with you on holidays, doing the everyday mundane, enjoying the exciting together, and learning life as you both grow. Isn’t this what we want in a Christian sister?
5. Someone who is dependable.
We trust them because they have shown us they can be counted on. You can trust that if you had a really, really bad week that they would not hesitate to offer to bring your family dinner that night. And they wouldn’t forget and leave you with a cranky spouse, crying kids, and peanut butter and jelly on stale bread. They mean what they say and say what they mean. You do things to bless each other and expect nothing in return. You can count on them to build you up and help you be stronger. Real Christian friends pray for and with each other. You can also depend on them to be honest with you when others might take the easy way out.
Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Proverbs 27:6
6. Someone who shares accountability.
No one wants you to be their momma but a real friend will care, show concern, and hold you accountable. If you cross a line of some kind, your friend will be close enough to not only recognize what is happening but will not hesitate to speak the truth, grab you by the hand, and drag you back on solid ground all while storming the gates of hell on your behalf.
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9
They desire to see you grow in your walk with Christ and they are willing to do what they can to help you get there. If they notice you have stopped reading your Bible or have been speaking lots of negatives over your life, they hold you accountable and ask the hard questions.
7. Someone who is willing to forgive.
This is critical. They will hurt you and you will hurt them. It happens, usually without ill-intent. You are both growing in Christ but will still mess up. But don’t share your hurt or disappointment in your friend with others. Both sides need to remember that if you want forgiveness, be willing to give it. Then pray together about the issue separately and together then let it go.
Disregarding another person’s faults preserves love; telling about them separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9
8. Someone you can laugh and be light-hearted with.
God has a great sense of humor and doesn’t intend for us to be serious all the time. If you can’t be yourself, relax, and laugh with your friend, there is an issue that needs to be prayed about. Some people are so serious and joyless they suck the life right out of you. Jesus wasn’t like that.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22
Friendship Is A Process
Friendship takes time like all relationships. You need to get to know each other, build shared memories and invest in each others growth. It should never one-sided or conflict with God’s Word.
Don’t be quick to rush into a friendship or push the other person too hard for their friendship. You know what I’m talking about. You don’t have to spend every day off with your new friend. Relax and give it time to grow and develop.
Are you the type of friend someone would want to be real friends with? If not, go to God and get right with him. Work on yourself before you worry about bringing someone into your life as a friend. Remember, God said to remove the plank from your eye before focusing on the splinter in another’s eye.
I don’t often quote outside of the Bible but have you ever heard the saying, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” It is so true. The Bible calls it reaping and sowing. Making real friends sounds so easy but there are so many lonely people out there pleading with God for a good Christian friend. People always seem to be surrounded by lots of people but loneliness is still ramped.
Real Christian friendship involves blending your gifts, your blessings, and building your lives with each other. So although in this post I am pointing out what we can look for (pray about) in a friend, I want you to know that these areas apply to you as well. What are you willing to sow into your friendship?
I want to challenge you to take a look at your friendships. Are they pleasing to God? Good Christian friendships are precious and I pray you will allow yours to grow deeper as you pray for and with each other!